In Canada, amnesty clauses are commonly found in collective agreements. The purpose of such clauses is to erase disciplinary measures from an employee’s file after a given period, usually between six and 24 months. Therefore, normally employers cannot consider disciplinary measures that predate the amnesty period when determining the appropriate disciplinary measure to be imposed. read more…
Under human rights legislation across the country, Canadian employers have a general duty to accommodate employees who are unable to perform their work for a period of time because of illness or disability to the point of undue hardship.
This may require an employer to grant an employee a leave of absence from the workplace. But what if the employee doesn’t provide medical documentation to justify such an absence; surely you could deny the leave? Not necessarily, according to an Ontario arbitrator in TRW Canada Ltd. and TPEA (Lockhart). read more…
An interesting series of recent labor tribunal decisions provides lessons about the application of contracting out clauses in union agreements. These cases demonstrate how virtually the same collective agreement requirements can be handled quite differently, with dramatically different outcomes. They also demonstrate that contracting out bargaining unit work in the face of collective agreement restrictions needs to be done in a carefully considered and planned manner. read more…
The Supreme Court of Canada, in Québec (Procureur général) c. Syndicat de la fonction publique, recently struck down a clause in a collective agreement. The clause in question prevented certain employees from challenging discipline through grievance arbitration. The Court declared the clause void because it contravened a statutory minimum standard.
For the last five years, two Wal-Mart big-box stores in Quebec have been the subject of certification applications filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The first store to be unionized was located in the town of JonquiÃ¨re. Wal-Mart decided to close down that operation in 2005 immediately after the union applied for binding arbitration to settle the terms of the collective agreement.
The Quebec Labor Code provides that an arbitrator designated by the Minister of Labor can impose the content of a first collective agreement. This may be done when the parties are unable to reach an agreement, after negotiation and government-assisted mediation/conciliation. In imposing an agreement, the arbitrator must decide the terms “according to equity and good conscience.” The arbitrator may also take into account the conditions of employment that prevail in similar businesses.
In these tough financial times, a number of companies are trying to reorganize themselves in order to avoid insolvency or bankruptcy. In Canada, there are several laws that help facilitate this process: the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). For the most part, employees are often left high and dry during these restructurings, as these laws don’t offer them much protection.
The CCAA is a federal law that allows financially troubled companies that owe in excess of $5 million the opportunity to restructure their affairs. The CCAA process is court-driven, giving judges a high degree of flexibility to decide how best to deal with the specific cases before them. A monitor is appointed to oversee the restructuring and to report to the court when necessary about the restructuring.
Managing absenteeism can be a significant challenge for Canadian employers. A wide variety of factual situations may be complicated by employment standards, privacy and human rights laws, as well as any applicable union agreements.
An example of the potential challenges of implementing an attendance management program (AMP) is the decade-long battle between Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. (CMBC) and the Canadian Auto Workers. It involved an AMP covering transit operators in the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia.
Wal-Mart, which has until now apparently been union-free, has had a union contract imposed on it in Quebec. The contract covers an auto center, Tire & Lube Express, which is part of a store in Gatineau, near the Ontario border. The small group of about eight employees apparently received union certification three years ago.
Under Quebec’s Labour Code, an employer may have a union contract imposed on it by an arbitrator if it is unable to reach a collective agreement with the certified union. The normal bargaining process must first have failed.